Press freedom in Italy continues to be threatened by organised crime, particularly in the south of the country, as well as by various violent extremist groups. These have significantly increased during pandemic and continue to hinder the work of information professionals, especially during demonstrations.
The Italian media landscape is developed and has a wide range of media outlets that guarantee a diversity of opinions. The broadcast sector includes several public TV channels (such as Rai 1) and public radio stations, as well as many privately owned ones. This diversity is also present in the print media, which includes nearly 20 dailies (such as Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica), about 50 weeklies (such as L'Espresso and Famiglia Cristiana), as well as many magazines and various news websites.
For the most part, Italian journalists enjoy a climate of freedom. But they sometimes give in to the temptation to censor themselves, either to conform to their news organisation’s editorial line, or to avoid a defamation suit or other form of legal action, or out of fear of reprisals by extremist groups or organised crime.
A degree of legislative paralysis is holding back the adoption of various bills that have been proposed to preserve and even improve journalistic freedom. This partly explains the limitations that some reporters encounter in their work. Defamation has yet to be decriminalised, and the pandemic has made it more complex and cumbersome for national media to gain access to state-held data.
As a result of the economic crisis, the media as a whole are increasingly dependent on advertising revenue and state subsidies, while the print media is also facing a gradual decline in sales. The result is a growing precariousness that dangerously undermines journalism, its dynamism and its autonomy.
The polarisation of society during the Covid-19 pandemic has affected journalists, who have been victims of both verbal and physical attacks during protests against health measures. This polarisation persists, crystallising around political or ideological issues related to current events.
Journalists who investigate organised crime and corruption are systematically threatened and sometimes subjected to physical violence for their investigative work. Their cars or homes are sometimes destroyed by arson. Online intimidation campaigns are orchestrated against those who explore these issues. About twenty journalists are currently receiving round-the-clock police protection after being the targets of intimidation and attacks.